Wednesday, October 22, 2014

REVIEW: 'Arrow' - Oliver, Diggle & Roy Take a Vacation While Laurel Hits the Streets Looking for Justice in 'Corto Maltese'

The CW's Arrow - Episode 3.03 "Corto Maltese"

Oliver packs for Corto Maltese, where Felicity has traced Thea's whereabouts. Lyla asks Diggle to go with Oliver because a field operative, Mark Shaw, has gone dark there. Feeling guilty, Roy also joins the trip. Meanwhile, Laurel meets Ted Grant, and Felicity adjusts to her new job.

It's always interesting when a show breaks from its familiarity - even if it's just for week. Oliver, Diggle and Roy head down to Corto Maltese to locate Thea and bring her back home to Starling City this week. It's a fun new locale for the show that changes up the look and the feel. Sure, we get plenty of dark broodiness in the Laurel storyline. But "Corto Maltese" was a nice change of pace for the series which will go back to its wonderful formula next week.

So much of this season so far has been about identity. Thea left Starling City because everyone in her life was lying to her and keeping secrets from her. She had enough and just wanted to escape from all that pain. She knows she can't trust her father, Malcolm Merlyn. And yet, she's aware that he can offer her the training that she desperately wants at this point in time. It's probably the best direction for the character in the series' run to date. She has a new look - and it's so much more than just a shorter hair style (which people comment on with much frequency in this episode). She is like a secret ninja now. But she's also keeping secrets from the people she loves the most now as well. The balance has shifted.

Oliver realized he had to share some truth with Thea in order to convince her to return to Starling City. It's a pretty filmsy rationalization that Diggle gives him as to why he can't tell her he's the Arrow. That's the biggest secret that she is in the dark about. The interactions between Oliver and Thea could be much more interesting if she was let in on the big secret - because that has been true with every single character that it has happened to in the past. The biggest secret that Thea is holding against him is the fact that he knew who her real father was. That was only made a big deal because Slade Wilson made it so. And yet, Oliver does open up and share some honesty. It's a weird moment. He tells her that their father, Robert, made it off the sinking ship but sacrificed himself so Oliver could live. It's a secret that the show set up in its pilot that they were very careful with in terms of revealing. When it is here, it is effective. And yet, the true highlight of that scene is where Oliver tells her that he still needs her as a part of his life.

Thea is someone who keeps Oliver grounded as Oliver Queen. Everyone else is accepting of his status as the Arrow. And yet, that role has been weighing on him all season long. Throughout this trip, he is forced to be Oliver Queen. He is not capable of traveling down to Corto Maltese as the Arrow. Diggle is there on a mission as well for Lyla. Oliver is able to assist him - but as Oliver Queen. He has made makeshift bows and arrows. But ultimately, he is forced into utilizing a gun in order to deal with the bad guys. He is as capable of shooting a firearm as he is an arrow. His time in Hong Kong will probably illuminate that aspect of his training further. It is also very engaging to see the stunt coordination in a more brightly lit setting. The grand action set piece happens in the middle of the day and it's just as well-executed as the darker sequences the show does on an episodic basis. The team emerges victorious and are returning to Starling City with Thea. But this was also a fun little trip for the show to take.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Corto Maltese" was written by Erik Oleson & Beth Schwartz and directed by Stephen Surjik.
  • In the aftermath of Sara's death, it was inevitable that it would be the driving force behind Laurel also becoming a fighter. It's all happening really fast right now. And yet, if it's happening quickly in order to get to much better material, I'm all for it.
  • I also really respect Oliver telling Laurel that he cannot train her out of honoring Sara. Yes, it's a plot beat to send Laurel back to Ted Grant's gym. And yet, Stephen Amell really sold it.
  • Diggle as a father has really changed his perspective when it comes to protecting his new family. He sees Lyla's name and picture on the database Mark Shaw is selling and is angrier because he has a personal stake in the outcome.
  • Still not quite sure about Ray Palmer. He's looking at weapons now thanks to Felicity which could be either good or bad. I have no clue. That ambiguity is forcing me to keep some distance from him. 
  • The one Laurel and Felicity interaction was pretty awesome. Felicity asks if they are favor friends or even friends? While Laurel wants her to google someone's phone.
  • Nyssa returns in the concluding moments demanding answers on what happened to Sara and Malcolm is also planning on returning to the city. Many elements are quickly descending back on the city and it's exciting.